Tuesday, February 07, 2017

4th Circuit: No Title VII Claim Where Employee Failed To Follow Leave Procedures

In Abeles v. Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, (4th Cir., Jan. 26, 2017), the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a religious discrimination claim by an Orthodox Jewish Airports Authority employee who was suspended for five days for taking off work for the last two days of Passover.  The employee gave only informal notice of her intention to take off those days and did not comply with the formal leave request procedure.  The court, responding to plaintiff's argument that under Title VII she should have been granted religious accommodation, said in part:
[N]o conflict existed between Plaintiff observing religious holidays and following MWAA’s neutral rules requiring advance approval of leave following specified procedures. Nor could she establish such a conflict. The Leave Policy merely requires employees to request leave by form or email, and obtain advance approval.
The court also rejected plaintiff's disparate treatment argument.  Discussion of the decision from plaintiff's perspective is provided by a Huffington Post contributor.